Takeaways From White House's Semi-Denials of Pardon Talks

29 March, 2018, 01:44 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking to supporters during a rally near the Kremlin in Moscow March 18

Jeff Mason on where the Russian Federation investigation could be headed.

According to The Times, Dowd spoke to lawyers representing former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort past year, as Mueller's investigation was closing in on both men.

The recently departed attorney for President Donald Trump raised the possibility of pardoning Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort with their attorneys last summer - which could potentially be used as evidence in an obstruction of justice case.

But the President discussed the subject of presidential pardons in a meeting with lawyers with the White House Counsel's office, the Times reports, citing a person who was briefed on what was discussed during the meeting.

Robert Kelner, Flynn's lawyer, as well as Reginald Brown, Manafort's lawyer at the time of the reported overture, and Kevin Downing, his current lawyer, did not respond to requests for comment about the New York Times report.

The president has long said both publicly and privately that he believes the case against his former national security adviser is thin, and that Flynn was unjustly targeted in what he characterizes as a politically-motivated "witch hunt".

The connection between Gates and the former intelligence officer, identified only as "Person A" in the records filed late on Tuesday, is significant because criminal charges brought against Gates and Manafort relate only to their lobbying work for Ukraine prior to the 2016 US presidential election and do not delve into their activities during the campaign. In a statement to the Times, Dowd denied the report.

The new document is a sentencing memorandum for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty in February to lying to federal investigators about his conversations with Mr. Gates in 2016 about work the two men did in Ukraine.

Gates remained in touch with "Person A" late in the campaign, Mueller said, communicating with the associate and van der Zwaan in a "series of calls" in September and October of 2016.

The Times says Dowd discussed his pardon idea with other members of the president's legal team, though its unknown whether he talked about it with Trump himself. "As far as I know, no discussions".

Two weeks after Flynn's guilty plea, Trump was asked by reporters whether he would pardon the retired Army three-star general.

"Not that I'm aware of", she said. "Floating the possibility of a pardon to a witness considering cooperation with a grand jury investigation would be bad if Dowd represented another non-presidential witness".


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